LINKS are in red

I joined Writewords in 2007 with no clear idea of where the writing would lead. I’d been writing poems since I was in school. I still have no clear idea. I wander hopefully. But along the way I have met some friends and a few great mentors, one of whom is the site’s poetry expert, James Graham. Nobody who has not had the benefit of James’ in-depth, insightful and gentle commentary on their work can appreciate just how many people James has nurtured over the years or how much he has contributed to their knowledge and skill as poets. Week after week James gives serious thought to the work of others and writes entire swathes of critique. He always prints the poems out. He makes notes. He questions, he suggests, he encourages. He sees each poem through to the end or to its abandonment. His perceptions are frank, honest and useful and of course his punctuation is unparalleled. He’d want me to point that out 🙂

James engaged in some Writewords work at my house. April 2019

Recently I have had the privilege of getting to know James better in real life. We met for the first time last September in Knaresborough.
This month he reaches the age of 80 and I am sure I am not alone in wishing him a Wonderful Birthday and Many Happy Returns of the Day.

James Reading his title poem from BECOMING A TREE

He has, by the way, read the following poem too and he wrote:
“there’s a particular stand of trees at Thorp Perrow arboretum, and I couldn’t help noticing that they were all, as far as I could see, practically the same height. As poets you and I both stand tall. No false modesty – I know I’ve written some good poems, but so have you. So have several other WW members – work that deserves to be far more widely appreciated. I couldn’t place us all in ranking order. Poetically we’re all handsome silver birches, all 80ft tall, give or take a fraction of an inch.”

The Art of Forestry
(for James Graham)

I met you
on your way to
becoming a tree,

at that point
where woodland paths
converge, we met.

You seemed always straight,
tall, rooted in
forest languages,

familiar
with leaf and bark,
versed in mossy soils.

We all grew stronger
under your branches.
Light, filtered through

your determined
shade, greened the sky,
measuring each day’s hours by a poem.

And you make sense
of all our knots,
tip us all a wink.

‘Time gnarls
everything,’ you say,
‘but the path always leads to

becoming a tree’.
Heaps of time pile up.
Leaves fall to their deaths.

Words bubble.
But what more could we poets ask?
It’s deep in our grain.

      by Oonah V Joslin